The United Nations Secretary General says the world body is committed to standing with Liberia in the face of the threat against the Ebola virus disease. “We will be with you until this outbreak is under control and the country has recovered,” he said.
According to an Executive Mansion release, Mr. Ban Ki-moon made the statement during a joint press stakeout with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in the foyer of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs following a meeting. Mr. Ban, at the head of an 18-member delegation, was in Liberia on the first-leg of a visit to the three worst affected Ebola countries.
“I’m here to demonstrate our strong partnership, solidarity and assurance of support for the people and government of Liberia in addressing this Ebola outbreak,” the UN Secretary General emphasized.
He also took the opportunity to express his great admiration and respect for the thousands of national and international responders who are making lifesaving contributions in the frontlines including the United States which have sent so many of its civilian and military personnel to join the fight against the Ebola outbreak. “The United States and many other countries, and civil societies, their commitment and compassion are truly inspiring.”
Mr. Ban expressed cautious optimism that this terrible disease will be defeated considering the fact that the virus is slowing down in Liberia, and paid tribute to the dedication and commitment of all Liberians. However, he warned that now is not the time to let the guard down because one case of Ebola can trigger an epidemic and committed the United Nations to supporting all affected communities to contain the Ebola virus disease.
Looking forward, the Secretary General said though the number of cases is still high, there was a need to be more robust with contact tracing, greater preparedness at the district level; while the promising results that Liberia has experienced must be shared regionally to avoid the risk of re-transmission.
The UN Secretary General praised the Liberian leader for her strong leadership, commitment and vision as she addresses the Ebola virus disease, adding, “This requires a political will and leadership and the United Nations is ready to fully support and work with you.” he assured President Sirleaf.
He noted that since the long time socio-economic impact is likely to be significant, it’s not too soon to begin work on recovery for tomorrow. “We must scale up our effort to re-establish basic social services, strengthen health services, support economic activity and build the country’s resilience,” Mr. Ban stressed, pledging the UN’s assistance to the Liberian Government and people to build a society more resilient and stronger.
Mr. Ban underscored that the engagement of the international community behind the Ebola affected countries has been tremendous and appealed to the international community to stay engaged. “I appeal to all stakeholders to work together to preserve Liberia’s hard won peace,” he urged.
Commenting on the Special Senatorial Elections, the third since the end of the civil war, the UN Secretary General said these elections will give Liberians an opportunity to show the world how far they’ve come; urging all Liberians to ensure that these elections are peaceful and at the same time follow the public health guidelines to protect themselves against Ebola.
Earlier, President Sirleaf, on behalf of the Liberian people, welcomed Mr. Ban and his delegation to the country. He first visited here in March 2013.
She recognized the global leadership Mr. Ban has exhibited since his tenure as UN Secretary General especially that leadership role at the onset of the Ebola crisis, its effect on Liberia and how he brought the global leadership together to respond in such a manner that today the country has made remarkable success.
President Sirleaf also recognized the presence of the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Margaret Chan, a part of the UN Secretary-General’s delegation, and how she has worked with the Liberian Government in bringing the quick response that the country needed.
“It was slow in the beginning,” the Liberian leader admitted, “but it came under the Secretary-General’s leadership and under hers [Dr. Chan] with full force that has enabled us to be where we are.” She thanked bilateral and multilateral partners, other United Nations and Non-Governmental Organizations, particularly the UN Secretary General who brought these groupings together to enable Liberia make the tremendous progress it has made in the fight against the Ebola virus disease.
While in Liberia, the UN Secretary General participated in an Incident Management System (IMS) meeting at the Monrovia City Hall. He later met with United Nations staff at the UN Mission in Liberia headquarters at the Pan African Plaza and later visited the 25-bed field hospital intended to treat healthcare workers affected by Ebola in Charlesville, Margibi County. He later departed Roberts International Airport for Freetown, Sierra Leone on the second-leg of his three nation tour.